News

Maryland Hospital Rates Are All Over the Place

Cropped SingleCare logo By | April 15, 2016

Hospital costs in Maryland can vary by thousands of dollars for the same procedures, leaving patients with unexpected out-of-pocket expenses, in addition to high insurance premiums.

When it comes to medical costs in Maryland, you may not know what you’re getting yourself into. The Baltimore Sun found that hospital rates throughout the state can vary by thousands of dollars for the same procedure. The price of a knee joint replacement surgery, for example, can go up to nearly $50,000 depending on which hospital you choose.

The Sun also found that the average cost of having a baby more than doubled when it was at Johns Hopkins Hospital, as compared to the University of Maryland, St. Joseph Medical Center. Another example? Hopkins charged over $18,000 to treat heart failure, while the Edward W. McCready Memorial Hospital charged just over $7,000.

Why Hospital Prices Vary

A combination of factors determine how much a procedure costs at each hospital. The way hospitals negotiate their payment plans with Medicare and private insurers is one reason why costs are rarely consistent. Unfortunately, the exact factors that determine the cost differ from hospital to hospital and are often not disclosed upfront, making it difficult to anticipate exact costs.

On top of that, health care costs are often distributed among all patients to make up for the loss that occurs when a patient cannot pay for his or her healthcare in full. Charges can also vary depending on technology costs and how often a procedure is performed at that location. And that’s nothing to speak of the tests and treatments that can add unforeseen costs to a normal check up.

Private insurers and Medicare hardly, if ever, pay the full price of the bill. We know one thing for sure, the uninsured typically pay a much higher price for their stays than the insured. Gerard Anderson, the Director of the Center for Hospital Finance and Management at Johns Hopkins Hospital, told the New York Times that, “If you’re uninsured, [hospitals] are going to make you pay.”

Healthcare Costs Are Increasing Nationally

pojoslaw/Thinkstock
pojoslaw/Thinkstock

All of this can add up to one big headache, but sometimes the consequences are much worse.

The New York Times reported that health spending in the US reached $3 trillion in 2014, a sharp 5.3% increase from the year before. Another Times article reported that in many cases, even people with insurance cannot afford the healthcare they need. Having deductibles in the thousands mean that people are often left paying out of pocket for routine visits, on top of the monthly cost of their subscription health insurance. Sometimes they’re forced to avoid the doctor’s office completely or simply drop their health plans.

Marylanders are no exception. The Baltimore Sun reported that the state’s largest insurer, CareFirst, raised their rates by an average of 26% in September, and the increase directly impacted around 8% of residents. In their first report on CareFirst’s request to raise rates in May, the Sun stated that the initial figure was closer to 30.4%.

For most people, these costs are overwhelming. As insurance deductibles rise, patients are personally responsible for more and more of their medical costs. And when hospital costs are all over the place, it’s easy to be caught off guard with astronomical out-of-pocket expenses.

Affordable and Transparent Healthcare

SingleCare simplifies this process with an alternative to the complicated and guarded interchange that takes place between insurance companies and hospital bills.

Whether you’re without insurance or can’t afford your premiums, SingleCare offers its members discounted, negotiated rates for quality health care providers. In some cases, prices can be up to 50% less than the out-of-pocket cost. There are no monthly fees, and pay only when you receive care.

SingleCare believes in providing health care that is affordable, honest, and easy to use and its commitment to price transparency means that you’ll never be surprised by unanticipated costs.

(Main image credit: Bartek Szewczyk/Thinkstock)